By the standards of its time, the British army engaged in the Peninsular War was small and old fashioned. It was to make up for those drawbacks by some superlative advantages.
For a start the British Army was an entirely volunteer organisation. This had a huge influence on both the composition of the army and how it was used. Most European armies by the date of the Peninsular War had followed the lead of France and used conscription to raise armies that were both enormous in number and composed of all sections of society - urban, rural, rich, poor. The British army, by contrast, was comparatively small and drawn very largely from rural areas. The sections of society represented tended to be polarised. Poorer men joined the ranks, richer men joined as officers. Relatively few moderately well off men could afford the costs of being an officer and even fewer wanted to join the rank and file.
The men were paid fairly well by contemporary standards for a labourer and underwent extensive and repeated training. They were, therefore, expensive commodities that the government would find expensive and time consuming to replace. British commanders were never encouraged to embark on the sorts of costly attacks in column that won battles for French generals. Indeed, British tactics and strategy were generally aimed at sustaining the minimum possible casualties. Most European commanders with large numbers of poorly trained conscripts would have viewed this as a decidedly old fashioned view.
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Product DescriptionAt Talavera a British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) tried to link up with a Spanish army under General Cuesta to ambush a French corps under Marshal Victor. But things went wrong and the British had to fight their way to safety.
This book forms part of the Bretwalda Battles series on The Peninsular War.
The book outlines the Peninsular War up to the start of the Talavera Campaign. It then analyses the careers of the commanders and explains the tactics and weapons of the time together with any differences between the practices of the armies involved in the battle. The book then describes the action in detail before moving on to outline events after the battle.
Written by a military author of great experience, this book explains the way battles were fought two centuries ago and explains the course of the action in an accessible but authoritative style.
This lavishly illustrated ebook is a must for anyone interested in the Peninsular War in general or the Battle of Talavera in particular.